Small body size, narrow airways, and high metabolic rate make anesthesia of chinchillas challenging. In addition, because cardiomyopathy and valvular disease have been described in chinchillas, thoracic auscultation should be performed. The need for preoperative blood analysis should be balanced against the possibility of blood loss. A drop of blood for glucose measurement can be obtained from an ear vessel. Fasting and water deprivation before anesthesia are rarely necessary, as chinchillas cannot vomit and fasting can increase risk for hypoglycemia. An induction chamber (if used) should be different than one used for small carnivores (eg, ferrets) to avoid the smell of a predator. If an induction chamber is not used, supplementary oxygen should be provided via facemask immediately before and during induction. Volatile agents were often preferred for maintenance of anesthesia because of greater control over anesthetic depth than when injectables are used alone. Because of high metabolic rate and incidence of subclinical respiratory disease in chinchillas, supplemental oxygen should be given throughout anesthesia. Ophthalmic lubricant should be applied liberally. Fluid administration rates depend on ongoing fluid losses and the expected effects of drugs used on the vascular tone; 10 mL/kg/hr for crystalloid fluids should be the starting point. Because of the large surface area:body weight ratio, strategies to avoid hypothermia should be initiated. A multimodal approach was most effective for addressing pain.
This article provided a thorough overview of anesthesia for chinchillas as well as general guidelines, diagnostic techniques, patient monitoring, and therapy for related medical conditions. Information on drug doses was presented. The principles of anesthesia described should be followed to ensure anesthetic risks are low and successful outcomes are achieved.—Anthony Pilny, DVM, DABVP
Anaesthesia and analgesia in chinchillas. Saunders R, Harvey L. IN PRACT 34:34-43, 2012.